Is cholesterol important?
Yes, it is important. Cholesterol is a component of cell walls and is a constituent of bile, sex hormones, adrenal hormones, and vitamin D (Summerfield, 2001, p.124)
What causes elevated cholesterol?
Dietary fats are not the only culprits in raising cholesterol. The kinds to avoid are saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. High intake of saturated fats from animal sources is associated with high LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Consumption of trans-fatty acids (hydrogenated oil found in margarine, most frying oils, and other processed foods) can also contribute to cholesterol problems by blocking the normal digestion pathways of essential fatty acids (Pouls, 1999, p.133)
High Cholesterol (high LDL) and low (HDL) can cause:
- Increases risk for heart disease
- Atherosclerosis (formation of plaque on arterial walls)
- Causal factor in gallstones, impotence, mental impairment, and colon, prostate, and breast cancers (Pouls, 1999, p.133)
Improving Cholesterol Balance
To Lower Cholesterol and LDL
- Decrease saturated fats in diet
- Increase essential fatty acid foods
- Use psyllium husks
- Add oat bran
- Increase complex carbohydrates
- Decrease caffeine and nicotine
To Increase HDL Cholesterol
- Get regular aerobic exercise
- Do not smoke
- Decrease weight (Haas,2006,p.660)
Recommended supplement nutrients:
To lower cholesterol and LDL: Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), B12 Cobalamin), B3 (Niacin), and C, Folic Acid (Folate), chromium, EPA & DHA (Eicosapentaenoic acid; Docosahexaenoic Acid ) Omega 3s, Garlic, Fiber, and L-carnitine (Haas, 2006, p.660), Policosanol, red yeast rice (Haas, 2006, p.664).
When using Niacin to lower cholesterol, please use the nicotinic acid form. Please note that the niacin flush occurs when doses of 50 mg or more are taken. The niacin flush takes about 10 – 20 min. and it is harmless. When taking large amount of niacin regularly, this reaction no longer occurs because stores of histamine are reduced (Haas, 2006, p.116).
Vanadium, a trace mineral, may also help to inhibit cholesterol by regulating blood sugar. Vanadium is mimicking the action of insulin (Haas, 2006, pp.225,226).
What are Triglycerides and Fatty Acids?
Triglycerides comprise about 95% of the lipids in food and in our bodies. They are the storage form of fat when we eat calories in excess of our energy needs. Triglycerides have a similar structure, being composed of three fatty acids attached to a glycerol molecule. Glycerol is a short-chain carbohydrate molecule that is soluble in water, and when triglycerides are metabolized, the glycerol can be converted to glucose. Glucose is a metabolized form of “sugar” in the body. It is found in some fruits, such as grapes. Glucose is carried in the blood and is the principal sugar used by the tissues and cell for energy. High glucose levels in the blood can signal a diabetic condition (Haas, 2006, pp.69,70).
- Pouls, G. & Pouls M., (1999). The supplement shopper: The complete user’s guide to choosing the best supplements. Tiberon, California: Future Medicine Publishing
- Haas E. M. & Levin B. (2006). Staying healthy with nutrition: The complete guide to diet and nutritional medicine. Berkeley, California. Celestial Arts.
- Summerfield L.M. (2001). Nutrition, exercise, and behavior: An integrated approach to weight management. United States: Wadsworth Thomason Learning.
- Cholesterol Management by LEF.org.